Expanding Beyond Southern Ontario
In 2008, SONG expanded in a big way to the Ottawa area where we'd already organized the Ottawa Sun.
Beginning in January, 2008, we added seven media units from the former Local 102-O, including the House of Commons broadcast/technical group, the Ottawa Citizen mailroom, the Winchester Press, the Glengarry News, the Pembroke Observer and the audio-video units, TelAv and ELC.
The organizing continued with the addition of the Sarnia Observer editorial department in late 2008. in 2010 both the Metroland Ottawa and the Chinese-language Ming Pao units were added. Ming Pao workers didn't get their first contract, however, until 2012 following a strike and government-ordered first contract arbitration.
Despite the organizing efforts of Locals like 87-M, the national union, during the first decade of the 21st Century, suffered major membership declines due to the effect of globalization and the 2009 financial crisis. Many jobs in the heavily-unionized manufacturing sector were outsourced to low-wage countries in Asia. This led to merger discussions between CEP and the Canadian Auto Workers which was consummated with the creation of a new union, Unifor, on Aug. 31, 2013. Unifor instantly became the largest private-sector union in Canada and a formidable force for worker rights and social justice.
In June 2014, 87-M grew again when some 100 members of Ottawa-based Local 588-G – print graphical employees at Canadian Bank Note, B.A. International and the federal government’s Treasury Board – voted to join the Local, increasing its unionized workplaces in eastern Ontario alone to 13.
And in 2015 we added our first online unit in Sun Media's Canoe website.
With the merger, CEP Local 87M became Unifor Local 87-M. We now represents almost 3,000 workers in all aspects of the media in Ontario and 34 different workplaces. The local and its members confront daily issues of media concentration, editorial integrity, contracting out, job security, pensions and the declining circulation of paid daily newspapers.
The local has had, and continues to have, success in supporting its members on these issues because of the willingness of members to volunteer their time and use their energy and creativity. Some take time from their careers to work full-time as local president or on local staff. In addition, the local has been well served by the dedication of its staff hired from outside the membership. Men and women who have spent countless hours in the negotiation and administration of collective agreements and ensuring the infrastructure of the local functioned on a day-today basis.